I just finished reading Huxley's Brave New World, a dystopian novel about a futuristic society of genetically modified humans raised by the government, and conditioned to avoid pain and “enjoy their destiny,” whether thats at the top of society or at the bottom.
As I read, I was struck by the concept of Soma, a little pill taken to dull senses and emotions and keep one in a state of blissful ignorance of their reality.
When reading about this instantaneous numbing of emotion, I couldn’t help but draw a connection to how I tend to use technology, particularly my various screens. The smartphone has given us an ever present tool for immediate gratification. We no longer have to sit in boredom or sadness; we don’t give ourselves space to contemplate our existence. Instead, we have this tool available to constantly numb our emotions, allowing us to be blissfully unaware of and disconnected from the realities of human emotion.
What effect does this constant access to other times and places have on our emotions? What happens when we lose the capacity for boredom? What happens when we numb our emotions with senseless scrolling? We are consuming incredible amounts of data and information, but what effect does this have on our human condition? Are our smartphones taking away our ability to think and feel for ourselves? What does it look like to harness (and temper) this technology to help us be more human; to help us feel more deeply and live more fully, rather than using it to mindlessly desensitize our very real emotions?